This Lucky Life

Okay, not only was I born to a great family in a great situation in one of the greatest countries in the world. I was lucky enough to be born in 1986. This birth year afforded me many luxuries unbeknownst to mankind since the dawn of existence. Modern medicine, the discovery of vitamin C, and manifest destiny be damned. I’m talking about getting to grow up with Super Mario, The Internet (it really should be a proper noun, no?), and Jon Stewart. And all of these things were somehow perfectly timed so that I was the perfect ripe age to enjoy each to its fullest. But that’s not all.

I have been a very blessed sports fan throughout my life. Michael Jordan was the hero of my childhood. When we had eaten dinner, done the homework, and nothing else stood in our way, the question wasn’t, “What should we do now?” but “Who are the Bulls destroying tonight?” Watching him nearly nightly for the better part of my childhood was a sports dream. As I grew older I always thought, “Wow, that was great to watch him – but maybe I was too young to appreciate it.” The funny thing is, I kept thinking that until tonight, when I realized that I have been watching baseball’s Michael Jordan for 10 years now.

No, not the crappy Michael Jordan playing for the Chicago White Sox’s minor league affiliate. I mean Albert Pujols.

As I child I hated baseball. Boring and stupid. But then Mark McGwire happened. His forearms were too big not to be a fan. The homeruns. The records. The Cardinals! Now, I feel a bit guilty about him being the bait that got me hooked on baseball, but whatever man. I also started skateboarding because of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, but that won’t be written on my tombstone. As Mark McGwire’s character on the Simpsons once said, “Do you want to hear the truth (about steroids in baseball) or see me sock some dingers?” Of course we want to see the dingers socked and will willingly turn a blind eye to the rest. The best thing about McGwire is he cemented my love for the Cardinals, which gave me just enough time to be there before Albert came on board.

I remember his first season. It was just too good to be true that a rookie could make such a huge impact for a full season. It was like they got this super-veteran sent to them in a 21 year old’s body. Then I remember each subsequent season, thinking, “There’s no way he can do it again…”

Around the time I went to college in 2004 it was just assumed that he was going to produce .300/30/100 for the rest of my life. It was magical. You knew you were watching greatness in its purest form. It was beautiful, inspiring, and pure joy.

There are so many memories with him. I will never forget him temporarily erasing Brad Lidge’s career with the most monstrous homerun in playoff history. Who cares that the Cards lost that series – the moment will live forever. At times for me it was more about Albert than it was about the team.

2006 brought a World Series victory while I was studying in the heart of St. Louis. The mayhem that ensued, on a night when I was decked out as MAD TV’s Marvin Tikvah was one of the best nights of my life. It felt like many more rings were on the way.

Although that hasn’t happened, it doesn’t even matter. Yes, the Cards are in the midst of a historic comeback run to get into the playoffs (reminiscent of their shenanigans prior to the 2006 playoffs). And they have been competitive almost every year they’ve had Albert. That’s why it has been so much fun to watch them year in and year out. But most of all, because of him.

And now I am sitting here wondering where my adult hero is going to go next year. Tomorrow could be his last game for the Cardinals. If that’s the case I will be sad for sure. It will break my heart to see him in another uniform. But at the same time, I know his career will always belong to the Cardinals. Perhaps his best years are behind him now (although that’s not saying much considering his astronomical production). Just like when Mike made the mistake of coming back after hitting the game winning shot to win his 6th championship and was fat and slow on the Wizards – I will probably block from memory any epilogue to his Cardinals chapters.

So I want to take my audience hostage for one entry and dedicate this to a guy who has made me smile so many times in the past 10 years.

A mancrush for the ages

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2 Responses to “This Lucky Life”

  1. Gail Says:

    Kevin, you would have enjoyed last night’s baseball extravaganza of 4 important games for play-off rights on TV! Of course I didn’t watch, but when Brad gave me the play-by-play this morning, I told him, “Kev would have loved this!” Maybe next year at this time will be another great Cardinal year and you’ll be in the States to watch!

  2. icenugget Says:

    Definitely a historic night. Missing things like that scared me before I left, but now it doesn’t bother me too much. I can still read about it and enjoy it 😀

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